Yesterday came the news out of California Congressman Darrell Issa’s office that House majority whip Eric Cantor had indefinitely shelved SOPA, a controversial anti-piracy bill. According to Issa, Cantor had “assured” him that the house would not take up the bill until there was some consensus on what it contained.
However, that’s not the same as dead and Cantor’s office has made no statement about whether or not he’ll actually shelve the bill today. And, the senate has their own online piracy bill, PIPA or the Protect IP Act which is similar to the SOPA, just as unpopular and – so far – not being off the table.
Either way you slice it though SOPA and PIPA are having a tough time of it. On Saturday a team of White House technology experts came out with a memo that says while piracy is a serious issue that needs addressing, it must not come at the cost of free expression, innovation or the underlying structure of the internet. And last week Congressman Lamar Smith of Texas, the bill’s author, took out a key enforcement provision in the bill after several trade groups complained.
Issa has been a long-time and strident critic of both PIPA and SOPA and in fact a couple of weeks ago came out with his own legislation (along with ideological opposite, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon) to combat the issue. His bill is called the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act and instead of forcing search engines and other companies to block sites with pirated material it would have the International Trade Commission shut off their funds.
So where do we really stand with both SOPA and PIPA? Does Issa’s bill have a better chance of passing…and of striking less controversy? Are there political reasons for lawmakers to start backing off these bills, and for the Obama administration to start addressing them? Also, Wikipedia and Reddit are planning to go dark for 12 hours on Wednesday in protest, did they get preempted by congress?
Scott Fulton, Enterprise Correspondent, Read Write Web (a well-regarded tech blog)
Kitty Felde, KPCC's Washington Correspondent